Wickedness is easily done and many are those who choose it, especially in these times. And virtue is an exhausting thing and few are those who follow it. We must aim to resemble them and ignore the the many

  1. From Patericon

One of the brothers came once to abba Theodorus from Ferme and told him: `Look, that brother went back into the world. The elder told him: `Are you surprised by this fact? Don’t be. Better be surprised if you hear that someone succeeded to escape from the mouth of the enemy.

An elder said: `Better live with three brothers who have fear of God than with ten thousands who have no fear of Him. In the last days in the monachal communities only a few out of a hundred brothers will save their souls. And out of fifty I don’t know if it could be found any. All of them will go astray, being fond of food, of gluttony, of the love to rule and to have plenty of money. Many will be called, but few will be chosen. [1]

The same said: If you sit in a place and see some people who have a sort of comfort, don’t pay attention to them. But if there is a poor one pay attention to him as long as he has no bread and you will find rest.

Abba Pimen asked abba Makarios tearfully: `Tell me a word, how to save my soul.` And the elder told him: `This thing you are seeking has gone away from the monks now.`

Abba John said : `One of the Elders was in full rapture and saw three monks who stood on the seashore. And a voice from the other shore was heard speaking: `Take fire wings and come to me.` Two of them took wings and flew on the other shore but the third one remained on the shore shedding tears and crying out. Afterwards he was given some weak, powerless wings, which were not of fire. And he reached the other shore after a long pain, with a great effort, falling into the sea and rising up again. It is the same with this people: even if they take wings, these are not of fire, but weak and powerless.

The Holy Fathers prophesied about the people from the last times and said to one another in bewilderment: `What have we done?` One of them who was great, abba Isihiron answered: `We have done God’s commandments.` And they said: `And those who come after us what will they do?` And the elder answered: `They will reach half of our work.` And the fathers asked again: `And what will be with those coming after them?` And he said: `Those from that generation won’t have any work. They will have trials and those who will be found facing them bravely will be greater even than us and our Elders.`

  1. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

My beloved, when you see those aging in monachal life being careless take heed and guard yourself so that you won’t become like them and walk on the same path with them and inherit the eternal damnation.

Or living in abstention do not show pride in front of them to fall into a high self-esteem and surrender in the hands of the enemy. But take heed at yourself and guard your soul carefully since we are not justified or damned because of the deeds of the others and when we will be taken to the Judge naked and bare-headed [1], everyone will give account for his own self and will carry his own burden. That is why it is good to take heed at yourself all the time and follow those who live after God, raise your eyes towards them and resemble them.

Do not want to follow those who neglect their salvation and aim only to get the monachal order so that you won’t be like a soldier caught by the enemies who has the signs of the emperor but he is a slave of his enemies. Cause forthright is the One who said: `Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.`[2].

The face is like the leaves and the deed like the fruit.  Do not pay attention then to the exterior look aiming to be like them and saying: `You are not better than such men who fell into irrational passions.` Think of what it is written: in a big house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. And some of them bring honor, others dishonor. [3] If you don’t listen to the Lord and you commit sinful deeds, you will be chosen as a disgraceful vessel, but if you do the deeds of the Lord you will be a chosen vessel, sanctified, of good use for the master, suitable for every good thing.201.

Love good company and stay away of the bad one since even the wizard, the plunderer and the tomb robber were not born this way but learnt these things from other people who had the mind spoiled by Satan. Because God made everything very good. [4].

Do not delight yourself in baths, feasts and comforts for not falling into terrible dangers. Always remember the distress of the sinners fearing that after not such a long time you may be counted among them. Didn’t it happen to you to enter a place where is mourned a dead and hearing the sobs and the crying from that place to hurry to get out? For this reason you must notice the testimonies of the eternal things from the ephemeral. Because they say: `Give reason to the wise and he will become wiser.`109

Accept the commandments of the Lord with innocence but dispel the scheming of the devil and put an end to the harmful encounters so that your inner self may find peace.

Do not spend your time with clowns and comedians so that they won’t spoil your mind; because their words harm those who listen to them more than the poison of the viper. They make the old behave like the young and they draw the young to the sinful deeds.

If you live in a community and see some brothers walking helter-skelter and talking things which are not liked by God, do not pay any attention to them or their words and keep God before your eyes as it is written: `I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved. [5].

And avoid being made by the cunning one to say in your heart: `These fathers live in a sinful way although they have been living for a long time in a monastery and in ascetic struggles. What will I do young as I am?` Listen to the Lord who says: Many are called and few are chosen. [6] and few are those who save their soul. [7] Be one of the few chosen ones and not one of the many lost ones. Since all those who do the evil in a community or in any other place they would stay are sons of the evil one and they are like the weeds in the middle of the wheat. [8]

So make yourself wheat to be gathered in the barns of the Lord and not weeds to be burnet by the unextinguished fire. Think that righteous Lot lived in Sodom but he was not tempted by pleasures or by their debauchery. That is why he was saved as it is written: This righteous man living among them day and night suffered in his pure soul because of their wicked deeds he saw and heard and it is added: `God knows how to save from trials the faithful ones and the unjust will be kept to be punished in the Day of Judgment  [9] and others. Lot although he lived with such people was not condemned to death with them. But Gehazi served prophet Elisha and sinned [10]. Samuel as well stayed with Eli and with his sons. And those were lost and he was saved because he loved God for real and did not aim to walk on the path of the sinful [11]. And Judas followed the Lord with His disciples but he sold Him to the wicked.

Thus everyone of us must always take heed at himself. If we live with the righteous looking at them we will live righteously having near the examples of virtue. But if we live among the sinners we should try hard not only to hate their deeds but also to offer them reasons for salvation by our good way of living. If someone says: `I am helpless and careless and I am easily brought towards the wicked things by the men who live recklessly, one like this should take heed at the divine Scriptures and aim to follow the way of living of the Holy Fathers and he will be honored by men and God. He should look for men with fear of God who heal the souls and receive gladly any word from them and show it in deed and he will bear fruit in a short time. Because the Scripture says: ask your father and he will give you advice, ask your elders and they will tell you.211.

It must be known that the man who is in a community and is careless about his salvation and commit deeds which are against this will have a harder punishment not only for himself but also for the souls who are lost because of him for whom he was an example of idleness and wickedness. But who practices virtues and takes care of his salvation will be worthy of a great honor in heavens because he had given to his brothers an example of an improved life and by his zeal he wakened the eagerness of the reckless to work the commandments. Just like the man who fights in the first row and is the first to break the lines of the enemies and is more honored than the others, that one who has vigilance in the work of God and gives a very useful example to the others will be greatly honored by God.

Of Antioch Pandect

As the hornet eats from the work of the bees, the idle brother spoils the improved life of a community. And as the fearful soldier ties the hands of the other fighters, the reckless monk weakens the eagerness of his brothers. For this reason he will receive a greater punishment from God. So it is better my beloved to live with a few brothers who are well pleasing to God than to live with many who neglect the commandments of the Lord.

There where is fear of God, it is found love and understanding and God lives among the brothers. There where it is no fear of God it is found discord and envy and the enemy delights himself with that.

Thus it is better to live with a few good men than with many worthless as the divine Scriptures told us. As the author of the Proverbs tells us: `Do not want to join a mass of people if they have no fear of God. Since a righteous is better than a thousand sinners and in the assembly of the sinners it will burst a fire.18.

And another one says:

Do not wish to be in a worthless crowd and if this increases do not be delighted of them, if they have no fear of God. Do not believe in the length of their life because you will sigh painfully and prematurely. Since a righteous man who does the will of God is better  (and it is better to die without children) than to have shameless children. Because from a wise man the city will be filled.[12].

  1. of abba Mark

When you see two bad men having love for one another know that they help each other to fulfill their will. The man who has a high self-esteem and the one who is fond of vainglory easily find good company in each other. Because the first one praises the man who is fond of vainglory and this one honors him submissively and praises without cease the one that has a high self-esteem. Stay away of these people so that you won’t suffer any harm from them.

  1. From Patericon

A brother asked an Elder : `If I see some of those who stay with me going back in the world how can I not fall into error? The elder answered: `You must think about the dogs who hunt hares. Because even there only a dog sees the hare and chases him until he reaches him without being impeded by anything. The others don’t see the hare only the dog that chases him and for a while they run together. Then they realize that and go back. The dog that saw the hare chases him and doesn’t stop until he catches him. He doesn’t pay any attention to those who went back or to precipices, bushes and thorns and he doesn’t stumble in these at all but keeps all the time ahead the aim of his run and he is looking only towards the chased one.

This is what happens with the one who looks for Lord Jesus and tries to reach Him. He takes heed at the Cross without cease and ignores everything else, he walks over all the hindrances which cross his way until he reaches the Crucified One and he gains Him vividly and steadily.

  1. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

The enemy hurries to arm my reckless brothers against the zealous ones. But the zealous ones, if they don’t care about that, find in the reckless a reason to humble themselves more by bearing their weaknesses for the sake of the Lord. The one who shows mercy to his neighbor will find mercy at the Lord. And unmerciful will be the judgment for the one who has no mercy.

Do not join your brother in sin. If it is possible for you try to escape him of it so that your souls may live in God. The fear of God must always be before your eyes and the sin will never rule you.

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[1]   Hebrews 3,14.

[2]   John. 8,34.

[3]   2 Timothy 2,20.

[4]   Genesis 1,31.

[5]   Psalm 15,8.

[6]   Matthew 21,14.

[7]   Luke 13,23.

[8]   Matthew 15,3.

[9]   2 Ptr. 2,8-9.

[10]  4 Kings 5,20-27.

[11]1 Kings 3-4.

[12]  Sir. 16,1-4.

Excerpt from EVERGETINOS – 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 25 –Metropolis Press Publishing, Athens, Greece, 2007